AnnaLynne McCord has opened up about her battle with dissociative identity disorder, which is formerly known as multiple personality disorder, saying she ‘wanted to die’ for most of her life.
The 90210 alum sat down with Good Morning America for an interview that aired on Friday, three days after she first publicly spoke about her diagnosis and the importance of removing the stigma that is attached to the disorder.
‘I wanted to die for so much of my life. I didn’t want to be here,’ McCord, 33, said. ‘And now I wake up every day and I say thank you I’m alive again.’
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Opening up: AnnaLynne McCord, 33, discussed her struggle with dissociative identity disorder in an interview that aired on Good Morning America on Friday
Struggle: McCord described having DID as having ‘fragments of yourself,’ saying she ‘wanted to die’ for most of her life
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is characterized by alternating between multiple identities, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
A person with the disorder may feel like one or more voices are in their head and have gaps in memory of events, including trauma.
McCord, who is a sexual abuse survivor, said she realized she needed help a decade ago on the set of 90210 after she filmed a scene in which her character Naomi was raped.
‘My whole body like just went into panic mode as if I was living out my life on camera. These moments were coming to light through my work. I didn’t understand anything about the mind or the brain at the time, I was just trying to do my job and I couldn’t. And it was very scary,’ she recalled, adding: ‘I found a way out.’
The Nip/Tuck star previously revealed she was raped at the age of 18, which then triggered memories of the sexual abuse she suffered between the ages of five and 11. Before she went to therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the rape, McCord had no recollection of the childhood abuse.
‘When the memories started to come in, I just started saying, “No, no, this did not happen,”‘ she explained. ‘It [her dissociative identity disorder] had put into a bubble all of the dangerous, toxic, harmful memories [and] locked it away.’
Looking back: The actress, who is a sexual abuse survivor, said she realized she needed help a on the set of 90210 after she filmed a scene in which her character Naomi was raped
Many people with dissociative disorders like DID struggle with memory loss or amnesia around traumatic events or experiences.
‘Trauma can impact people in a variety of ways, particularly those who experience sexual abuse or neglect or physical abuse in youth,’ Dr. Panagiota Korenis, associate professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein’s College of Medicine, told GMA.
‘As a complicated way of coping with the trauma, they’ve identified these alters in their personality, who take on a variety of personas or personalities.’
McCord said it was ‘so destabilizing’ to have those traumatic memories come flooding back to her, explaining: ‘My whole life means something different now.’
Dissociative identity disorder was previously called multiple personality disorder, but the name was changed in the 1990s to better reflect the condition, which is characterized by a lack of a unified identity.
‘You don’t have multiple personalities. You have fragments of yourself,’ McCord explained. ‘There’s AnnaLynne, who’s talking to you right now, right? And then there’s the part of me that this trauma happened to that’s still, if you can imagine it, like trapped in Pandora’s box, and I just opened Pandora’s box.’
The star said she is sharing her story to help fight the stigma surrounding the disorder while she focuses on healing.
Candid: McCord publicly revealed her diagnosis on Tuesday in a new YouTube video she filmed with brain disorder specialist Dr. Daniel Amen
Not here for it: McCord said she’s ‘absolutely uninterested in shame’ in speaking up about the disorder
‘The brain doesn’t care about quality of life,’ she said. ‘It just cares about going on to continue living. I want my quality of life to get better and that’s why I stepped into this healing process…I want to thrive.’
McCord first revealed her DID diagnosis in a YouTube video that was shared by brain disorder specialist Dr. Daniel Amen on Tuesday.
‘The way this is talked about has so much shame. I am absolutely uninterested in shame,’ the Atlanta native said in the clip. ‘There is nothing about my journey that I invite shame into anymore.’
What is dissociative identity disorder?
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) was previously known as multiple personality disorder and is classified by the presence of two or more distinct personality states in those who have it.
Dissociative disorders – including DID – usually develop as a reaction to trauma, as a means of keeping difficult memories at bay.
As well as the presence of alternate identities, DID symptoms can also include amnesia and other mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
The most commonly used treatments for DID are talk therapy and medication; however, other methods may be suggested depending on the individual and their symptoms.
‘That’s how we get to the point where we can articulate the nature of these pervasive traumas and stuff, as horrible as they are,’ she added. ‘So, however, we can get it out there, I am wanting to do it.’
McCord is now examining how the sexual abuse she suffered may have led to her dissociative identity disorder.
While speaking to Dr. Amen, the actress opened up in more detail about her own memory loss, explaining that she doesn’t remember anything about her life before the age of five, and after that, she can only remember several ‘incidents’ of abuse, recollections that were triggered by her rape at age 18.
‘I don’t have anything until around five, and then from five to 11. I recount incidents throughout,’ she said, noting that she also has gaps in her memory after the age of 11.
‘And then when I was 13, I have a singled-out memory that was just one thing, that I don’t have a sense of anything else at that time.’
However, McCord does remember having a split personality when she was 13.
‘She was a balls to the wall, middle fingers to the sky, anarchist from hell who will stab you with the spike ring that she wears, and you’ll like it,’ she told Dr. Amen. ‘Then she’ll make you lick the blood from it.’
The actress added: ‘She was a nasty little creature, but I have so much gratitude to her because she got me out of the hell that I was in.’
McCord, who received her DID diagnosis before meeting with Dr. Amen, revealed that her doctor told her she suffered from it ‘pretty seriously,’ and that she likely had ‘definitive splits’ prior to her memory returning.
Although McCord can now identify she had a split personality from the age of 13, she can look back on her childhood behavior and see evidence of the disorder at an earlier age, before her memories came back.
‘Before my memories came back, I had definitive splits. In my history, you’ll see me, I would just show up with the black wig and a new personality and I was this tough little baddie, and then I’d be the bohemian flower child,’ she explained.
The anti-trafficking activist now believes that her disorder also played a part in her work as an actress, explaining that all of her roles, in one way or another, were ‘splits’ – split personalities – although she was not aware of it at the time.
Repressed memories: The Nip/Tuck star said that a sexual assault she suffered at the age of 18 triggered memories of child sexual abuse she suffered
Educational: McCord was engaged in an in-depth discussion with the doctor about the brain and how it works
Sign: The actress said she first became aware of her DID symptoms while filming 2012 movie Excision, explaining she struggled to let go of the ‘disturbed, strange’ character she played
Difficult: Hours after wrapping the movie, McCord had to return to playing her bubbly 90210 character Naomi Clark, but she ‘couldn’t get out’ of ‘dark’ role she’d played in Excision
It was not until she took part in the 2012 independent movie Excision that she began to become aware of the symptoms that she now recognizes as signs of DID.
‘All of my roles were splits, but I didn’t even realize I was doing it at all until I did [Excision],’ she shared.
In the movie, which she filmed while on hiatus from the hit Fox series 90210, McCord played the role of Pauline, a ‘disturbed, strange girl.’ She recalled struggling to let go of that character and return to her day job playing a rich Beverly Hills teen.
‘I played a very, very cerebral, disturbed, strange girl, that was very close to who I feel I am on the inside,’ she said. ‘And it was very exposing, confronting, and a little bit re-traumatizing without realizing it…and even healing as well.
‘The crazy thing about it was that I wrapped that film at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday and had to be happy, crazy Beverly Hills blonde bombshell on Wednesday at noon and I couldn’t find her, she was not accessible. I was dark, I was very deep into this character Pauline, and I couldn’t get [out].
‘When I look back in hindsight, I’m like…oh my dear God.’
McCord went on to recall that there was one moment when she ‘experienced [her split personality] consciously’ when she was ‘co-conscious’ with a split she referred to as ‘little Anna.’
‘I could be co-conscious with my “little” and was very clearly defined that I was me, anchored in real time, and “little Anna” was popping up,’ she explained, although she added that she has ‘spent a lot of her life as the [anarchist] split she was [from] 13 and on.’
Dr. Amen explained that he scanned McCord’s brain and the results are ‘not like many of the other multiples he has seen,’ before questioning whether the actress has ever been given a bipolar diagnosis, which she confirmed she had.
‘In 2017, I actually went [to a psychiatrist], knowing for years that I felt like I was [bipolar], considering the fact that I have family history and the symptoms seemed to line up,’ she said.
Candid: McCord, pictured with her mom (front) and sisters, previously revealed she was raped at age 18, and the trauma of that attack brought back memories of childhood sexual abuse
Honest: McCord opened up about a number of identities she has taken on in the past during the discussion
Expert: Dr. Amen explained that he scanned McCord’s brain and the results are ‘not like many of the other multiples he has seen’
Using her voice: McCord said that her goal is to shift the way society views people dealing with the disorder
McCord said she had struggled with symptoms of bipolar disorder for years, but admitted that she actually relied on her ‘manic’ behavior as a means of pulling herself out of a depressed state.
‘I would use my manic symptoms to get me out of depression, I would kind of manipulate my symptoms,’ she explained. ‘I knew that if I went on a crazy sex spree, or a shopping spree, or any kind of heightened thrill-seeking type things, I could always manipulate myself out of depression so I never really got too stuck.’
However, in 2017, she ‘went down a depression spiral’ that she could not bring herself out of ‘no matter what she did.’
‘I tried to go on no-sleeping benders to activate my mania, I tried sex, spending [sprees], I tried traveling all over the globe the first part of that year but I could not get out of the depression.’
Referring to McCord’s brain scan, Dr. Amen said that he believes the actress used her split personalities as a means of ‘managing’ her childhood sexual trauma.
‘When you’ve had intense childhood sexual trauma, you split as a way to manage it,’ he said. ‘And the brighter you are, the more you split.’
He also suggested that the actress may have had an undiagnosed brain injury, which could also be an underlying cause of her condition.
McCord, who noted that there is a ‘massive spectrum obviously’ of disorder in how it impacts people battling it, said that her goal is to shift the way society views people dealing with the disorder.
‘For me, my heart is to change this narrative around these behaviors that follow trial of the trauma, and not treating someone or responding to someone or judging someone from their actions but asking, “What happened to you? How did we get here?’ she said.
If you or someone close to you is in need of mental health help, text ‘STRENGTH’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to speak to a certified crisis counselor.